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A typical adult human mouth has 32 teeth which come through by the time you hit puberty, around 13 years of age. This includes the incisors, canines, premolars, molars, and wisdom teeth (third molars which come in around age 18).

Today we’re going to talk about the canines, those pointed eye-teeth, or cuspids, located next to your incisors. They are the longest of the human teeth. The canine teeth may have gotten its name because of its resemblance to the fangs on dogs. Even though ours are shaped a bit differently, they are very important to our mouths. We use these teeth when we speak and for several other functions like eating and guiding our other teeth into the right positions. When we eat, these teeth help to tear or cut food into smaller pieces that we can chew. They also work alongside our incisors so that we can form words.

When your teeth are coming in, the canines can help serve as guides to the rest of the teeth. They may help keep your upper and lower teeth and place as your jaw moves from side to side, and they can help guide the jaws back into their proper place as well. What’s more, these teeth can help support the shape of your lips.

Because of their position, the gums around the canine teeth may be more vulnerable to erosion. We recommend that you take extra care to brush gently in these areas. Brushing too hard could inadvertently cause dental erosion or gum recession.

Impacted Canines

Your incisors are also susceptible to impaction, which means the tooth can’t push through the gums into position in your dental arch. This stumbling block is called impaction. It can occur when your baby teeth don’t fall out like they should, so the adult incisor can come in. Other reasons the tooth might be impacted is that the tooth is too big for the slot, or perhaps there’s bone material or growth’s blocking the tooth’s trajectory. Sometimes the adult tooth starts growing in before your primary teeth have fallen out. Other times you might have extra teeth in the dental arch.

You’re probably familiar with impacted wisdom teeth, as they have a tendency to get stuck trying to come out, often because they are too big for the space in the back of the mouth to accommodate with ease. But wisdom teeth can be removed without causing additional problems. Well next to wisdom teeth, canines are the most common teeth to incur impaction. Unlike wisdom teeth, though, your canine teeth are too valuable to the formation of your bite pattern to be removed. This means we may need to work with your orthodontist to bring your canines into healthy alignment.

If you would like to learn more about your teeth in Orem. Utah, you are welcome to schedule a consultation at Hill Family Dental by calling 801-225-7110. Drs. Jared Hill and Jerel Hill, along with the rest of our dedicated team, are happy to help you with your oral health questions and concerns!